Tour of WSCC School of Nursing proud moment for local woman

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HANCEVILLE – When she was a young girl, Pauline Whaley dreamt of being a nurse. “From the time that I could read, I’ve wanted to be a nurse,” said Whaley, 83, a resident of Brookdale Assisted Living Facility in Hanceville. “I read a book about Florence Nightingale and from that time on I wanted to be a nurse.”

Life had other plans for Whaley, who opted to focus her innate nurturing abilities as a homemaker, caring for her husband and their three children, one of whom did live out her mother’s dream of becoming a nurse.

This week, Whaley received a glimpse of what today’s students experience as they train to be nurses when Sharon Ellis of Brookdale arranged for a special tour of the Wallace State Community College School of Nursing and Center for Science. “Mrs. Whaley has been with us for a couple of years, and she’s always talked about how much she wanted to be a nurse,” Ellis said, “so I thought it would be a nice surprise if she was able to tour Wallace State’s nursing school.”

Whaley was greeted by Deborah “Pepper” Hoover, director of the WSCC Nursing program, and Mechelle Baker, secretary for the nursing program. Baker led Whaley on a tour of the facility, which included the state-of-the-art Simulation Center, labs and lecture halls.  She was then treated to lunch in the Wallace State Café.

“This has been amazing,” Whaley said, “I’m so thankful for this opportunity.”

A special treat for Whaley came when Hoover found the photo of Whaley’s daughter, Vickie Whaley Jackson, on a composite photo of the nursing program’s graduating class of 1993 and provided Whaley with a copy of the same grouping. Hoover followed that with a certificate created especially for Whaley.

The certificate read:

University of Compassion and Caring

In recognition of lifelong dedication to compassion and caring, having gained knowledge from personal experience and through the example set for others, Ms. Pauline Whaley has gained expertise and mastery in this chosen field. With the approval of the Faculty and Staff, we declare Pauline an Honorary Nurse for a lifetime of gentleness and kindness shown to all who came across her path.


“You’re going to make me cry,” Whaley said with a catch in her voice as she accepted the certificate.

Hoover said she was delighted to meet Whaley, to provide the opportunity for her to tour the college and to learn that Whaley’s daughter was a graduate of the WSCC Nursing program and how she’s succeeded in her career. Whaley said her daughter, Vickie Jackson, was a recipient of the Florence Nightingale Award while at Wallace State and is now employed with Dr. Chris LeGanke, helping in a groundbreaking study for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

“It’s great to hear about the legacies, the success our students have experienced and how Wallace State has touched so many lives,” Hoover said.

While she didn’t get to be a nurse herself, Hoover said Whaley’s support of her daughter while she studied, was just as important. “Being a parent and being supportive of our students allows them to be a success,” Hoover told her. “To be honest, it’s a make-or-break factor in their success. So the fact that you were so supportive of your daughter is a credit to you as parent.”

While this was Whaley’s first opportunity to tour the nursing building, this was not her first time to be on the campus of Wallace State. Whaley said she previously took art and upholstery classes at Wallace State, even creating cushions for the couches first used in the Student Center when it was built. She’s also returned for graduation ceremonies for children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

“I wasn’t supposed to, but I yelled so loud,” she said with a wide smile of her daughter’s pinning ceremony when she graduated the nursing program.